Smith And Wesson Forums banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Hey Giz,
Very interesting. Couple questions. You said the "This particular lock works better with the bevel of the flint upward. It allows the flint to strike the frizzen higher."

How many styles of lock works are available? Any inherrintly better? Or are some so bad you should totally stay away from?

Saw where you have previously mentioned the need to file down the front sight. This common practice for all BP? And if you file too much, you replace and start back at ground zero....?


Also, I had to wickepedia Frizzen. More description would help the ignorant. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
Bevel up or bevel down?
The placement of the flint in the jaws of the cock (hammer) should be such that the edge of the flint strikes the frizzen face approx. 2/3 to 3/4 of the way up its surface. Whichever way you have to mount the flint in order to achieve this effect is the correct way for that piece of flint and that lock. Flints are knapped from a naturally occurring material and no two are exactly alike. The next piece of flint you mount in the same lock may have to be mounted "upside down" from the orientation you used before.
Flints usually last for 20-35 shots;sometimes more. When they don't seem to spark as well,the shooter "knaps" the flint edge by re-shaping it with a small hammer or other metal object. In a pinch,I have even used my ring of house keys tightly held together. Once a new edge is exposed,the flint will usually last again as long as before.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,681 Posts
Very interesting thread...I'm all eyes and ears! :)

The scope of black powder shooting is so broad, those of us who have burned up many pounds of BP - but never in a flinter - have much to learn! :)

I've noted that flint locks - and most especially the jaws that hold the flint - vary greatly in size....ditto that on the size of flints to choose from. How does a novice know how to choose the proper size flint for his/her particular rifle? By matching the width of the flint to the width of the frizzen - and then sort of holding it up to see where it will begin its strike on the frizzen?

Sorry for the drift, but any and all of my flint buying will have to be done through the mail. Just wondering... :?

xtm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
You're right! Flint size is generally determined by the width of the frizzen. There is a little more to it of course. The length of the flint must be such that it is not resting on the frizzen while the lock is at half-cock with the frizzen closed. This is how the lock will be before you are ready to fire or while you are hunting. Some older locks in particular use a shorter profile flint in order to achieve this. It's okay if the flint is slightly narrower than the frizzen but not if it is wider. Usually,this is because the flint may strike the side of the barrel near the toch hole and shatter if its too wide.
If you don't have the right length flint,you can often shorten it by knapping either the front or the rear of the flint with a hammer. A really nifty way is to make a "U" shaped notch at the rear of the flint to correspond with the screw shank at the rear of the jaws. This preserves the cutting edge of the flint and will yield more shots.
I currently buy most of my flints from trackofthewolf.com and they often post a reccomended flint size for each lock,especially in their gun listings.
Flints are held in the jaws of the cock with a piece of deer skin wrapped around them to protect them from shattering when the cock jaws are tightened and from impact. Another method of mounting a flint is to take a lead ball and pound it flat on an anvil (or the sidewalk) with a hammer and fold it over the flint before mounting. This works really neat!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
This thread DELIVERS! Oodles of fun are just ahead! Many of the tools are used for the "What do I do if.....?" scenario. Like What do I do if I push the ball down the barrel and remember I forgot to dump the powder charge first. Or what happens if the shot doesn't go off?
There are simple remedies for all these questions. Our ancestors had all this worked out 250 years ago! The other nice thing about flintlocks is that if anything goes wrong in the firing sequence,you can fix it from the OUTSIDE unlike cap guns.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
Right!
There are now a plethora of powders being marketed to make your muzzleloader go boom,but there's really only one type for flintlocks and that's the original! I'm talking about real black powder.
The conundrum is that you are asking your propellant to be so sensitive that a mere shower of sparks will reliably cause it to flash as opposed to a blast from a percussion cap. Then you are asking a magic spark to find the touch hole and/or touch hole liner and that little spark must find its way inside the barrel to set off the main charge! Only real black powder is sensitive enough to fulfill all these requirements.
By the way,most modern flintlocks employ a touch hole liner made of steel or ampco alloy to conduct the spark inside. Think of them as a sort of usher at the theater helping that etereal spark find its way to its seat (the main charge). They are coned from the inside,thus bringing the flash pan that much closer to the inside of the barrel which at the rear is at its thickest point.
Black powder comes in several brands. Goex is made in the USA while Swiss,Sheutzen,and Elephant are made overseas although I believe Elephant is now out of business. It all comes in grades or granulations from coarse to fine.
Cannon = use is self explanatory-the coarsest
Fg = for use in large bore weapons like muskets and fowlers
FFg = for rifles and muskets from 45 to 62 cal.
FFFg = for pistols and rifles from 32 to 45 cal.
FFFFg = priming powder for your flashpan-not to be used as a propellant.
There is some overlap,of course and you can substitute some for others in a pinch. FFFg can be used in larger weapons than 45cal. but you need to reduce the charge. The reason for all the granulations is to control the burning rate just like coatings are used in smokeless powder. In BP,the granulation exposes more or less surface area,thereby contolling the time and impulse of the burn. A slower burn pushes the ball or shot charge evenly for the full length of the barrel in a musket or fowler,where the finer powders burn more quickly in a shorter pistol barrel or in the high velocity of a light rifle. Make sense?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
Now on to the subject of powder charges!
Since the round ball was pretty much the only projectile in use during the flintlock age,most barrels are constructed with a slow twist rate that is not suitable for longer bullets,etc. The twist rate of a 50 cal. round ball barrel is usually about 1 in 66. This makes the subject of powder charges simple.
Using the appropriate granulation of BP a good starting point is the same charge in grains as the caliber of the barrel i.e. 50gr. FFg in a 50 cal flintlock. This is usually the most accurate charge as well. There is no point in trying to make a magnum out of a rather delicately constructed gun anyway. If you do,you will prbably split the stock somewhere around the lock or the rear of the barrel.
That being said, the maximum recommended charge is usually abot 20-30 grains more powder. In other words,in a 50 cal. your target charge might be 50-60 gr. and your hunting charge might be about 80gr. of FFg.
Smaller bores are more sensitive to this effect. A 36cal. might thrive on 30gr. as a target rifle and 50gr. for hunting. You can also use FFFg in small doses in larger weapons sometimes to reduce lock time. (the time from when you pull the trigger until the ball leaves the barrel) A 50 cal rifle of mine performed at its best with a 60gr. charge of FFFg.
Too much powder is subject to the law of diminishing marginal returns. Just look at the charts published by Thompson Center or Sam Fadala in his books. A lot more powder is required to produce any significant results and its just not worth it. So,keep your powder charges modest and you'll hit what your aiming at and the gun will last forever.
If you can shoot through a 2X4 at 50 yards,your gun is plenty powerful enough for hunting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,839 Posts
Gentlemen This is what I like about this forum, the diversity of subjects. God knows I have my share of Smith&Wesson's, but they are a whole universe of firearms out there. I want to thank Giz and Lord slashcat for adding to the diversity of this great site. hpzl;n;
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
The trick is to keep your eyes open and on the sights while the lock cycles. If you flinch,you will usually drop the muzzle and shoot low. Big muskets like a Brown Bess go " klatch!.....poof!.....BOOM!" while snappy little flintlocks on squirrel rifles ignite so quickly you'd think you were shooting a cap lock. The one pictured above is somewhere in the middle of this range,so it's good exercise to practice your follow through.
Its an acquired talent and takes a while to master. I have ruined the plastic lenses on a couple pairs of glasses from shooting Charlevilles and Besses. Burning cinders have impacted my lenses. The locks are huge and slow and the flash pan capacities are enormous! They are built for reliability rather than speed. The smaller locks are no trouble at all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,309 Posts
I use similar methods to what has been printed here to keep my flintlocks shooting. The only big difference I see between what I do and what is written here is the use of the short starter. I load a loose enough ball and patch combo that I don't use one. Still an accurate load but faster for me on the second shot. Smaller ball, thicker patch.

If your load works, don't change it but food for thought.
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
The old timers around these parts would sometimes load a felt wad under the patch and ball...when shooting competitions. Swore it tightened up the group... So I gave it a try and dang..it sure do! :)

giz
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,309 Posts
For years I used a wad of hornets nest under the PRB. Don't remember why I stopped but may have happened when I stopped shooting competition.

Anyone else use hornet nest wadding?
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
okay, i've been waiting.

so how the heck do you get a ball out if there was no powder dumped in before you rammed it home?

Tip it upside down and shake it for hours or what?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,309 Posts
I have used both of the mentioned methods. Both have there applications and both work. In the field I try to shoot them out unless doing so will spoil the hunt for others. At the bench I will either use a ball screw or take the rifle home. Once home I unbreech the barrel and just push the ball out.

The ball screw is a good method if you don't have a tight ball patch combo.

They say the best way is to always load powder first but...
 
G

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Lord Slashcat said:
You're right! Flint size is generally determined by the width of the frizzen. There is a little more to it of course. The length of the flint must be such that it is not resting on the frizzen while the lock is at half-cock with the frizzen closed. This is how the lock will be before you are ready to fire or while you are hunting. Some older locks in particular use a shorter profile flint in order to achieve this. It's okay if the flint is slightly narrower than the frizzen but not if it is wider. Usually,this is because the flint may strike the side of the barrel near the toch hole and shatter if its too wide.
If you don't have the right length flint,you can often shorten it by knapping either the front or the rear of the flint with a hammer. A really nifty way is to make a "U" shaped notch at the rear of the flint to correspond with the screw shank at the rear of the jaws. This preserves the cutting edge of the flint and will yield more shots.
I currently buy most of my flints from trackofthewolf.com and they often post a reccomended flint size for each lock,especially in their gun listings.
Flints are held in the jaws of the cock with a piece of deer skin wrapped around them to protect them from shattering when the cock jaws are tightened and from impact. Another method of mounting a flint is to take a lead ball and pound it flat on an anvil (or the sidewalk) with a hammer and fold it over the flint before mounting. This works really neat!

always a big discussion on whether flints were fitted into the cock jaws with leather or lead.

the british army used lead exclusively according to records perused by rev war reenactors. as for the civilians i think it could go either way.
a discussion on Traditional muzzleloaders.com got me interested so i tried the leather and lead wrap in a ol'CVA flinter i had reworked.
my opinion was with the lead the sparks were more pronounced,but may possiblity reduce the longevity of the flint. either way is correct. and the cut up or down is in my experience lock specific.
cheers,
sewerman
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
306 Posts
I usually use thin deerskin leather,but I agree that soft lead is probably superior in retention characteristics when holding the flint in place.
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top